By Colin Foster
A Tory Brexit deal will probably come before Parliament in some way (see bit.ly/brx-d for the possibilities) in the next two or three weeks.
If a deal comes, it is certain to be as bad as previous Tory Brexit formulas if not worse. It is certain not to meet Labour’s six test from 2018, on the basis of which Labour has voted against previous Tory Brexit formulas.
So, as Michael Chessum of Another Europe Is Possible has explained, Labour should certainly not vote for the deal. The straightforward response is to vote against. An argument can be made for abstaining, so as to separate from Tory right-wingers who may vote against because they see the deal as not “hard” enough Brexit, or even run the (small) risk of triggering “no deal”; but no case for voting for.
Yet according to the Guardian, the Financial Times, etc., Keir Starmer, together with Lisa Nandy, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Jon Ashworth, and others, are set on a three-line whip for Labour to vote for the deal. The motive? To placate or conciliate pro-Brexit Labour sympathisers who voted Tory or abstained in December 2019.
The SNP has as big a percentage of habitual supporters who are pro-Brexit as Labour. They still vote SNP. Why? Because the SNP has convinced pretty much all of them that other issues on which those supporters agree with the SNP are more important (and some of them that Brexit is bad after all).
Labour must do the same, with different “more important” issues of course. The idea of voting for the final botched Brexit deal after voting against all the Brexit formulas before it takes those pro-Brexit Labour sympathisers for fools, and will convince them only that Labour doesn’t know what it’s doing.
The media report that other people in Starmer’s inner circle, Anneliese Dodds, Emily Thornberry, David Lammy, and even right-winger Bridget Phillipson, are pushing for Labour to abstain.
Through Labour Party meetings where they are held in December, and through direct lobbying of Labour MPs, activists should set up an outcry against voting for the deal.
Suggested motion for local labour parties
The CLP notes:____
1. On 28 November 2020, the /Guardian /reported that the Labour
leadership is “minded to impose a three-line whip in support” of any
Tory Brexit deal tabled before Christmas.
2. In March 2017, Keir Starmer (in his then position as shadow Brexit
secretary) set out 6 tests as a condition of support for any final
Brexit deal and promised that “Labour will not support a deal that
fails to reflect core British values and the six tests I have set
The CLP believes:____
1. Any deal put to Parliament before Christmas by the Tories will be an
extremely “hard”, regressive, version of Brexit, paving the way for
deregulation, and a race to the bottom for workers’ rights, human
rights, environmental standards, food quality and consumer protections.
2. From what we already know, the Tory Brexit deal will not be in the
interests of working people and will not meet Starmer’s 6 tests.
3. Labour should take no political responsibility for a hard Brexit
deal delivered by the Tories, and its inevitable economic and social
consequences and should vote against it in Parliament. ____
4. Our movement must argue for lowering, not raising borders; for
closer international links and solidarity; for high environmental
standards; and for the defence and extension of free movement and
This CLP resolves:____
1. To write to the Leader of the Labour Party and local MP
urging them to oppose the Tory Brexit deal in Parliament.
2. To publicise this motion through its social media and other channels.